Archive for February, 2014

How to Make a Swamp Bed

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Learning how to make a swamp bed is a very valuable skill.  Not only can it keep you dry, it can also make your camping experience more enjoyable.  But you should only cut the required material as needed and always check park regulations before cutting any plant material.

To begin the process, one will need to take a survey of your available material.  You will need four trees that are close together and in an arrangement that forms a rectangle.  If you are not lucky enough to find this, do not worry.  It is easy to create this by cutting tall bamboo and pushing this bamboo into the ground until it is secure. 

Next, cut two more poles that are the length of the rectangle and secure these poles to the bamboo poles in the ground using a strong knot of your choice.

Once that is done, it is time to create the bed “springs.”  The ‘springs of this bed consist of branches cut into the length of the short end.  Add these cut branches to the top of the bed and secure.  After that is done, top the “springs” with green grass and/or large leaves.


Now the bed is done but what else can you do to make it feel like home?    Well, you can add a heat source to your bed but be careful.  If the material is dry, using this approach can cause your bed to catch on fire.  But, if you want a little heat create a fire pad in one corner.  To do this, simply pack mud, clay and/or silt into one corner underneath the bed.  Allow the earth to dry and harden completely.  This simple hearth will create a dry surface by which you can start a fire.

After the fire pad has dried, build a fire starting with kindling and then work up to large branches.  You can enjoy the fire underneath the bed, which is especially helpful if it is raining or on top of the bed.

While every camper feels they are prepared for the worst, it is a good idea to learn survival skills that can keep you dry and warm during any emergency or primitive camping trip. 

Please keep in mind that any time a natural camp is made, it will need to be dismantled to abide by the concept of Leave No Trace even though it was made with natural materials.

How to Build a Tree- Pit Snow Shelter

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Several years ago, I had a camping experience that made me appreciate the simple tree-pit snow shelter.  During my primitive camping trip, my tent got a major tear in it.  While the weather was just cold and not snowy, I was really not concern with it.  I had camped in colder weather with just a tarp and sleeping bag, so I knew I could survive the tear.  But as Mother Nature does, she produced a usual winter storm that produced a large amount of snow overnight.  The next morning, I realized that I needed a better shelter than what I had. It wasn’t like I could just punch in the number of Naperville Snow Plowing service to alleviate the situation.   While the snow was an inconvenience, it was a blessing.  Not only did it supply me with fresh water, it also provided me with the materials for a new refuge called a tree-pit snow shelter.

To create a tree-pit snow shelter, one will need to walk around and take a look at their surroundings.  What you are looking for is an evergreen tree that has a lot of low hanging branches that are safe.  You do not want a tree with a lot of broken branches.  These can come down and bury you in your snow shelter or pierce through your body while you are in the shelter.


Once you have your evergreen tree selected, the next step is to dig out around the tree trunk and outward.  Do not go beyond the width of the lower branches of the tree.  These branches will provide overhead cover and moving past these branches will provide no protection.

Continue to dig out the area until you reach the ground.  Once you have reached the ground begin to stabilize the sides and top of the pit.  This is done by packing the snow with your hands or shovel along the sides and on top of the pit.  This will prevent the hole from caving in on itself and burying you.

Next, cut several evergreen boughs that will be used as the floor for your shelter.  Also, cut extra long boughs that will be used to create the roof of your snow shelter.

Now that is done, you are ready to climb into your shelter.  While this is a simple plan, there are few hints to take into consideration.  First, this type of shelter will only work if you have a lot of snow and in this example that means at least 12 inches.  Next, only select evergreen trees, which have needles that can collect snow and can reduce the amount of additional snow that may enter your pit if it snows again.   Lastly, only cut live plant material if there is an emergency.  Following this last step will abide by the Leave No Trace principle.